After the audience’s voices were finally in, the Sunday episode of American Idol marked the end of the road for eight singers, leaving us in the top 16 of season 19.
Let’s start with the results. The following 16 singers go into the next round: Alanis Sophia, Alyssa Wray, Ava August, Beane, Caleb Kennedy, Casey Bishop, Cassandra Coleman, Chayce Beckham, Colin Jamieson, Deshawn Goncalves, Grace Kinstler, Graham DeFranco, Hunter Metts, Madison Watkins , Willie Spence and Wyatt Pike.
Unfortunately, that means saying goodbye to Alana, Andrea Valles, Anilee List, Cecil Ray, Hannah Everhart, Jason Warrior, Liahona Olayan, and Mary Jo Young.
Read on for an overview of the Sunday performances with video:
ALYSSA WRAY, Jan. | With a voice that went beyond her years, Wray kicked off a groovy version of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and strolled across the stage with the confidence of a potential Idol winner. The judges thanked her for trying and crushing something else and impressed them all with a series of powerful runs. Click here to see.
GRAHAM DEFRANCO, 27 | I’ve definitely never heard Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” like this. I wasn’t in love with the sultry, funky arrangement, but it definitely matched DeFranco’s timeless vocals. (Am I crazy to think that it would sound like this if Sublime arranged a cover for John Mayer?) I can also appreciate the way he’s developing as an artist. Click here to see.
GRACE KINSTLER, Jan. | Judging by the audible scream I let out when Kinstler’s name was mentioned tonight, I think she may be even more of a personal favorite than I realized. Her cover of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” wasn’t a blast – not in the same way that some of her previous appearances were undeniable perfection – but once she got comfortable, she absolutely crushed it. Clock:
ALANIS SOPHIA, 19th | As anyone who attended a lesbian wedding – or at least watched the musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy – can attest, Brandi Carlile’s emotional ballad “The Story” is an absolute jam. And although I thought Sophia had jumped into the bombastic parts a little earlier, which I put down to the fact that the song was severely shortened for the time, I thought that she behaved appropriately throughout. Dr. Calliope Torres would agree. Click here to see.
WILLIE SPENCE, 21 | No you are crying! Every time Spence opens his mouth to sing it sounds like an angel is casting his voice and I’m never prepared for it. Like some of the songs tonight, I didn’t love the changes to Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”, but that only made Spence’s performance all the more impressive. (Holy key changes, Batman!) Watch:
DESHAWN GONCALVES, 19 | Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” is one of the most dubbed songs in reality competition history – it had to be retired yesterday – but Goncalves has a great voice and this was the perfect way to perform it. Click here to see.
WYATT PIKE, Jan. | Pike turned out to be one of the best actors in the competition and chose Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” to be the perfect song that compliments his voice and performance style. Lots of changes were made, but everyone felt authentic to Pike’s art. He’s a true musician and it’s such a pleasure to see him. Click here to see.
CASSANDRA COLEMAN, 24 | Given Coleman’s emotional reaction to being last in her group, I have no idea how she managed to compose in time to play Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. That alone deserves great praise. Still, I have to admit – that wasn’t great. Even the judges, who are not legally allowed to criticize this season, seemed reluctant to praise the achievement. Click here to see.
CALEB KENNEDY, Jan. | It’s incredible that Kennedy is one of the youngest contenders this season as he is performing some of the best week after week. And he did it again tonight, staying in his wheelhouse a lot with Chris Stapleton’s Midnight Train to Memphis. So, puzzle me this: Why doesn’t he arouse me ?! At least I know I’m not alone – even Ryan Seacrest couldn’t shake a smile out of him after the judges’ criticism. Clock:
COLIN JAMIESON, 22 | The hair? Lush. The song selection? Perfect. In fact, the only thing I would have changed about Jamieson’s performance of Tears for Fears’ Everyone Wants To Rule The World would have been that he took a big breath before it started – because he seemed to be struggling. Click here to see.
CASEY BISHOP, Jan. | Yes. YES. YES!!! For me, Bishop has already won that competition, and their performance of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” only confirmed that the Idol stage is exactly where it belongs. The power in her voice was absolutely undeniable even in the softer moments of the song. And while other singers this season have been labeled “timeless,” that word best applies to Bishop, a Gen Z powerhouse that smashed a ’90s classic while dressing like a’ 70s rock star. An absolute queen through and through. Clock:
Madison Watchkins, Jan. | Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity” is one of the last songs I would have expected Watkins to sing this week – mostly because it doesn’t deserve to be hacked up and rearranged so persistently – and I’m not 100 percent sure that it is i loved the song bottom line. Click here to see.
BEAN, 23 | It’s not every day that Idol pulls out a song I’ve never heard before, but Thirdstory’s “Searching for a Feeling” is definitely one of them. Even so, it didn’t take familiarity to know that Beane was treating it like a dream. I’ve complained about the cheesiness of Bene’s previous appearances – he’s a professional wedding singer again – but this time there wasn’t even a piece of cheese to be found. Click here to see.
HUNTER METTS, 22 | Well that was lovely. I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about Metts’ future in this competition after his questionable duet with Jewel, but America wanted to see more and I think Metts would come up with a nice take on Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.” Luke Bryan praised the “fear” in his voice, which I didn’t necessarily pick up, but hey … who should I judge? Click here to see.
AVA AUGUST, 15 | As a baby in the 90s, I was obsessed with Anne-Marie’s “2002”, a throwback to the music of yesteryear. For the sake of my sanity, I will not address the fact that August 2002 was not even alive. Instead, I’ll just bask in the serenity of her voice. I’ll also think about what Lionel Richie called them “15 and Dangerous,” which sounds like a spin-off of 16 and pregnant. Clock:
CHAYCE BECKHAM, Jan. | Raise your hand if you were surprised when Beckham was announced as the final member of the top 16. Nobody? OK, that’s what I thought. I have to admit, I’m not quite as in love with Beckham as I was when the competition started – possibly because so many other singers with a more unique style have turned up – but this was still a solid end to the night. Click here to see.
Did your favorite singers make it into the top 16? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on Sunday’s results.